On the plane home from Italy yesterday, I finally drifted off to sleep. My head filled with memories of the time we had spent there. The faces, the language, the flavors. Waking up in my scrunched position, all I could think about was gorgonzola and radicchio. Oh, the food during winter in Italy!
This was my first time to go there during winter. I hope it will not be the last. The day we left Venice for Florence, we made a stop for a few hours to visit a friend in Treviso, a gorgeous town in the Veneto region that I had long wanted to see.
My friend, Sabrina, picked us up outside the station and walked us through the city. What an incredibly charming city it is! The mills, recently restored due to a project by the university students in the town, constantly churn the blue-green water of the river and canals. She told us how beautiful it is in springtime, when the flowers bloom. Even in February, we spotted a few flower boxes with purple blooms.
After showing us the highlights, she took us to lunch. First, cicchetti, a Venetian tradition not unlike bruschetta. Bread can be toasted or not and served with a variety of toppings. My favorite was the one topped with finely chopped Radicchio di Treviso and melted gorgonzola cheese.
Radicchio di Treviso, she explained, only grows here in Treviso, and only this time of year, so we were quite lucky to try it.
With a proud smile on her face, Sabrina went to speak with the man behind the counter. She came back saying, “OK, he is preparing for us some specialties from the area.” We had no idea what was in store.
The waiter arrived with a plate of baked Radicchio di Treviso, the most gorgeous looking food I’ve ever seen, with polenta, a cheese from the mountains, and a local meat. Every bite was special.
It had never crossed my mind to cook radicchio, but it will become a staple in our house after that meal.
Later in the trip at a tiny trattoria in Florence, there it was again. Pasta with gorgonzola and radicchio. Not from Treviso this time, but I had to try it.
The dish came out creamy and with a hint of purple. Chopped so finely it almost dissolved, the radicchio colored the dish and its flavor, sweet when cooked, was exquisite with the gorgonzola cheese.
We awoke early this morning. Missing our 31,000 step counts in Italy, we decided to go for a walk. The sun was rising, and it was cool for a Florida morning. “What do you think about…”, my husband asked as he rattled off recipe ideas based on what we loved in Italy.
“I think this is beautiful,” is what I later realized. See, visiting Italy is not just something you experience while you’re there. It creates experiences once you return. The place and their way of doing things, their delicacies, traditions, and culture become integrated into your daily life.
Going for a walk at sunrise, making the most of every moment, doing our best to enjoy every meal, and make each one special. These are the greatest souvenirs we can bring home from Italy, and Mia Emilia allows us to enjoy the authentic flavors of Italy when we’re struck with inspiration to create something fabulously Italian.
Try the gorgonzola and radicchio sauce with Mia Emilia’s Pappardelle Egg Pasta.
Wash and chop the radicchio.
Add some extra virgin olive oil in a pan. We recommend Mia Emilia’s Marini Giuseppe Toscano Extra Virgin Olive Oil IGP.
Add the chopped radicchio and a splash of white wine, cook until tender and brown. Be sure to keep it stirred so the pieces cook evenly.
Begin heating your water. Once it begins boiling, add salt, and then the pasta.
In another pan, melt some butter and a little bit of heavy whipping cream and let cook until it thickens slightly.
Reduce heat and stir in the gorgonzola until melted into the sauce. Add the cooked radicchio and stir together to combine flavors and incorporate it into the sauce.
When the pasta is al dente, drain the pasta but don’t worry if there is a little water left. Add the pasta right into the saucepan and stir together.
Now you’re ready to serve. Buon Appetito!
If you would like to try baked radicchio, cut the radicchio into quarters and drizzle with Mia Emilia’s Marini Giuseppe Toscano Extra Virgin Olive Oil IGP. Bake it until it’s tender and browned on top. If you want to add a special touch, top with Mia Emilia’s Balsamic Vinegar of Modena Quercia Argento IGP. Serve with your favorite Italian cheese, and a few drops of the Balsamic on each slice.